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Parents sue over high school rules

(Global Times)

11:24, March 28, 2013

Parents of non-local junior high school students have said they will file a lawsuit next Tuesday against Beijing education authorities who have introduced a new policy banning these students from entering ordinary high schools.

An expert told the Global Times that although the policy is contrary to Chinese law, which stipulates that everyone has an equal right to education, including access to schools, the parents will probably not win as they are challenging municipal government policy.

The new policy states that children of migrant workers who do not have a Beijing hukou (household registration) can only apply to vocational schools after they have completed their junior high schooling, and will be barred from entering a regular high school.

The ruling, issued by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education in December 2012, also imposes conditions on entering vocational schools.

This requires that the parents have a local resident permit, stable residence and occupation, and have paid social insurance constantly for over three years. Without this, students who have completed their nine years of compulsory education cannot even enter a vocational school, unless they return to their hometown.

Many of the students affected have only lived and attended school in Beijing, and have little connection to the place where their hukou is registered.

A group of 10 parents are representing the non-local parents in Beijing to file the lawsuit at Haidian district court next Tuesday, as the education commission is located in the district.

One parent, surnamed Han, has a 14-year-old son who will graduate in May with no school to attend in Beijing.

"We want the education authorities to treat the non-local children the same as locals, who have the privilege of entering regular high schools and universities instead of just vocational schools," she said.

"Students can only get into a vocational college if they graduate from a vocational high school," Han said.

"Even so, this is only for those who have met the preconditions," she said.

Han worked in a private company and does not have a record of three years of social insurance contributions, so her son cannot even attend a vocational school.

"It means my son will be forced to drop out of school after nine years of education in Beijing," she said.

Han said that she now has no choice but to send her son back to her hometown in Sichuan Province to finish his high school study.

"That's the only hope to get into college later," she said.

Another parent, surnamed He, also has a 14-year-old son who is about to graduate from junior high school this year. Although He met the preconditions of the new policy, she doesn't want her son to be forced to attend a vocational school, and the boy does not want to go to one either.

"My son's academic performance was in the top five of the whole grade," she said, noting that although the students who studied in vocational schools could still sit the gaokao (college entrance examination), she does not want him to study at low-class vocational schools with bad educational quality.

Although parents said that they do not pin much hope on winning their suit in court, they want to push the government to issue an equal educational policy for the non-locals in Beijing.

Wang Jun, from Xianlin Law Office, said that it would be very difficult for the court to accept the case.

"Although the current educational policy for non-local students is not reasonable in legal principle and does not match with the Chinese law of public equal opportunity on education, the court might be less likely accept any cases that challenge government policy," he said.

Beijing is not the only city whose education policy discriminates against migrant workers and their families. Zhan Haite, a 15-year-old girl from Jiangxi Province, had to drop out of school as she did not have a Shanghai hukou after graduating from a junior high school in Shanghai in 2012. She came under the spotlight for calling for equal education opportunities for non-local students after opening a Sina microblog account to ask for her right to sit the gaokao, according to a Global Times report in December, 2012.

There were around 419,000 non-local students in Beijing in 2012 who were enrolled in primary and junior high schools, making up 40.9 percent of the total, the Beijing Daily reported in December 31.

Chinese education policy states that children should have nine years of compulsory education, from primary up to the end of junior high school level.

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